With several states issuing stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, nonessential small businesses around the world are left wondering how they’ll weather this storm. While many local shops are closing their doors, others are looking for ways to continue operating through the pandemic.
If you’re a local merchant still open during the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve likely seen sales nosedive as more consumers practice social distancing by shopping online and using delivery or curbside pickup. Curbside pickup and delivery options from brick-and-mortar businesses are nothing new—although COVID-19 is accelerating demand for such offerings.
Forbes recently wrote about the rise of flexible shopping solutions such as buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup. It estimated that 25% of shoppers would opt for curbside pickups from local businesses this year.
While in-store flexibility is convenient, we also know that consumers like having goods delivered—as evidenced by Amazon’s continued growth.
Consumers are now expanding beyond the traditional shopping experience as they look for safe and convenient ways to shop while in lockdown. Adding delivery and curbside offerings could be the saving grace that helps your small business through this difficult time.
Let’s take a quick look at how and why small businesses should embrace local delivery and curbside options during and after the coronavirus.
Because consumers are being told to stay home, there is incentive for small businesses to add curbside and local delivery options right now. These 2 fulfillment services allow your small business to continue to reach consumers while mitigating the risk of contracting COVID-19—assuming your staff takes additional safety measures.
Offering delivery and curbside options for your customers can not only increase your bottom line immediately, but it might prove to be a viable strategy for driving new and repeat business.
Consider the local pet store owner who could offer repeat food delivery to surrounding customers’ doorsteps every 3–4 weeks. This service provides an added value to customers now and after the pandemic, while giving the store owner more financial stability.
There are additional benefits for small businesses to set up delivery or curbside pickup for their customers. It allows them to stay competitive against large chains by offering the same delivery services. It allows them to build customer loyalty by offering multiple service types. Finally, delivery allows small businesses to make a bigger mark in the community by employing more people and reaching more customers.
Setting up a delivery service or curbside offering isn’t a one-step process. You will need to create systems and communicate with your employees to make it efficient, safe, and profitable.
Here are a few steps to help:
The coronavirus pandemic is forcing many small business owners to consider offering delivery and curbside pickup—but what should these businesses do once the lockdowns are lifted?
Demand for convenient shopping services like BOPIS, delivery, curbside, and other flexible options have been on the rise for many years.
Uber Eats, DoorDash, and other food delivery services have become household names as they scaled delivery for local restaurants. Large food chains like Panera Bread and Outback Steakhouse have also entered the food delivery game as they compete to retain profits.
Delivery and curbside aren’t restricted to restaurants. Large retailers like Target and Walmart also offer these services to make it easier and more convenient for shoppers. Amazon has built a business on delivering goods to consumers.
In other words, demand for delivery, curbside, and other flexible options is not going away.
Small business owners should always look for ways to grow and adapt. Creating a more convenient experience that leverages flexible fulfillment options isn’t just a short-term solution for the coronavirus—it’s a long-term strategy that can increase your customers’ lifetime value.
When people think of curbside and delivery, they typically think of the food industry. Uber Eats, Deliverr, Instacart, and Postmates are just a few of the food and grocery delivery apps that are being overrun with orders as the coronavirus has peaked consumer demand for flexible shopping.
This demand isn’t just for food products. Florists, pet stores, mechanics, and other local merchants can capitalize on the opportunity to reach consumers unlike ever before. Imagine being the only furniture store in town with an easy online ordering system and free local delivery.
Consumers have a lot of free time on their hands right now, and they’re looking for ways to shop without leaving their homes or interacting with the public.
Now could be an opportunity for small businesses to compete against big names like Amazon. If a customer can order an item from a local store and have it delivered within a few hours, there’s less value in shopping at a large retailer.
Short-term coronavirus delivery could lead to a long-term push to support small businesses.
Consider the practices above if you want to add a delivery or curbside service to your local business. If you set up a profitable infrastructure now, you may be able to keep up the service after the pandemic passes and grow a larger audience of loyal customers.